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Anthony E. Zuiker brings reading to a new 'Level' with online video extras?

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Anthony E. Zuiker, a.k.a. the creator of CSI, has released a novel, Level 26. And as expected, the book follows a familiar hero: a crime scene tactician who must chase down a deadly enemy.

But Level is not quite your run-of-the-mill thriller. Zuiker, who wrote the book with Duane Swierczynski, opted to add a more interactive component to the book, allowing readers to log onto a website every five chapters to watch a “cyber bridge.” (In fact, Level is branded “the first digi-novel.”) So what exactly does that mean? In this case, Zuiker’s “cyber bridges” are short movies 2-3 minutes long, starring familiar faces like Bill Duke (Predator) and Kevin Weisman (Alias) that serve to enhance the plot for readers. (The films do not simply reenact the book’s scenes — instead, they attempt to give the reader additional, admittedly inessential information regarding the plot).

Fun or no (I’d vote “fun”), Zuiker’s experiment brings up a question: Is this kind of interactive reading the kick in the pants the publishing industry needs? With so many consumers trading in TV and the web for books, is this one way that publishers can reel their readers back in? Personally, though I think the concept is cool, I’m not sure how many readers would be willing to put down their books and hop over to their computer to watch a video.

But would you, Shelf Lifers? Do you like this concept, or do you prefer uninterrupted, old-fashioned reading?

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